What is DevOps automation?

May 4, 2023 // 4 min read

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DevOps automation is a modern approach to software development that uses tools and processes to automate tasks and streamline workflows. It brings together developers, IT operations, and security teams to help them collaborate effectively and deliver reliable software. With DevOps automation, organizations are able to handle repetitive tasks, optimize processes, and deploy applications to production faster.

DevOps automation takes two concepts—DevOps and automation—and uses them to complement the agile software development process.

DevOps incorporates continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment (CI/CD) to help developers and IT operations efficiently and effectively build, test, and provide feedback during the process of delivering software solutions. DevOps is important for helping organizations to:

  • Minimize deployment delays
  • Shorten production cycles
  • Increase performance
  • Reduce errors

Automation uses technology to perform repetitive or tedious DevOps tasks so that humans don’t have to. Its purpose is to give those humans the ability to focus their time and effort on mission-critical activities. Automation is used in the design and development, deployment, and monitoring phases of the DevOps workflow.

DevOps automation optimizes the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and helps to achieve consistent configurations, improve the speed and quality of releases, and scale to meet changing needs.

There are DevOps tools for:

  • Planning and collaboration: manage project requirements, track progress, and communicate with stakeholders.
  • Build: automate software builds from source code to testing.
  • CI/CD: automate integration, code change testing, and deployment to production.
  • Operations and continuous monitoring: monitor application performance, troubleshoot issues, and manage infrastructure.
  • Development, security, and operations (DevSecOps): include security testing and compliance in the development process.

Adopting DevOps automation empowers teams to stop putting effort into repetitive and time-consuming tasks and instead focus on tasks that add business value. DevOps automation helps organizations to:

  • Increase development speed and code quality. Developers are able to streamline CI/CD, address issues earlier in the SDLC, and facilitate shorter feedback loops.
  • Facilitate collaboration and agility. Teams have more time to spend on innovating and are able to respond quickly and effectively to customer needs or to changes in the market.
  • Reduce downtime and increase reliability. Tools that aim to reduce risks and minimize user impact empower organizations to recover from incidents more quickly.
  • Discover greater time and cost savings. Automated tools reduce the risk of human error and help teams to focus on resolving problems instead of identifying them.

How does DevOps automation work?

Automation supports DevOps by streamlining its lifecycle, which consists of planning, coding, building, testing, packaging, releasing, operating, and monitoring.

Circle chart showing steps of the DevOps workflow

DevOps automation enables developers, IT operations, and security teams to collaborate throughout the DevOps lifecycle to define application and infrastructure requirements and to identify places for automation during the process of delivering software solutions.

For example, an automated software testing tool uses test scripts to validate that an application works as expected before releasing it to production. This type of tool is also capable of testing software beyond its normal operating limits and determining its robustness and error-handling when it encounters unexpected user interactions or invalid input.

DevOps automation is also used to proactively monitor applications after they go live. Performance issues are reported to DevOps teams based on pre-defined thresholds, which helps them to prioritize when and how to respond.

Besides testing and continuous monitoring, DevOps processes that can be automated include provisioning, CI/CD, deployment, and infrastructure management.

There’s no single tool that does it all when it comes to DevOps automation; however, selecting specific tools does enable infrastructure customization. Tools that help with DevOps automation include:

  • CI/CD tools that automate the build, test, and release pipeline to help minimize human error, maximize code quality, and improve application security. These tools provide dashboard and reporting functions that work with version control and agile tools.
  • Configuration management tools that help to ensure that hardware and software perform as expected. A declarative configuration tool automates the process of achieving the desired state instead of having to write out the necessary steps.
  • Containerization tools that package applications with their code, runtime, system tools and libraries, and settings to help ensure that software works as expected, no matter the infrastructure.
  • Orchestration tools that automate the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications. Tools like these help IT teams to manage tasks and workflows.
  • Package management tools that simplify the installation, upgrading, configuration, and removal of software. They maintain a database of software dependencies and version information and help to ensure package integrity and authenticity.
  • Web hosting tools that provide a way for software developers to create an external website that tells people about the application being built. These tools can turn repositories into webpages that share project information, documentation, or videos—anything that would be helpful for potential customers.

Best practices for DevOps automation

While automation goes a long way in reducing human error throughout the DevOps lifecycle, it may not be possible to automate every aspect. Best practices for DevOps automation include:

  • Implementing infrastructure as code to simplify the setup, configuration, and maintenance of IT resources and to enable scalability and agility. Infrastructure as code also provides an auditable change trail.
  • Relying on CI/CD to help test all changes and see if they break anything, deploy successful release candidates, and automatically send changes to production.
  • Employing change management and adhering to version and change control procedures; they encourage collaboration and reduce the chance of harmful changes to the code.
  • Practicing continuous monitoring of live applications for performance and stability. It minimizes service interruptions and provides valuable insight to the teams who troubleshoot, debug, and patch.

Optimize DevOps processes with automation

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to DevOps automation. That’s why GitHub offers a range of tools to help you streamline your DevOps pipeline and give your developers the tools to do their best work. Explore GitHub now to find the right services for your organization.

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Frequently asked questions

Does DevOps require automation?

Automation isn’t required for DevOps, but it does bring more efficiency to the DevOps pipeline. DevOps automation enables teams to manage environments at scale, and it creates feedback loops between those who build the software and those who maintain it.

What is an example of automation in DevOps?

CI/CD is an example of automation in DevOps for implementing automated testing during the process of delivering software solutions. It helps to improve code quality, identify bugs, and ensure that security is built into every stage of the process.

Why is there a need for DevOps automation tools?

DevOps automation tools are used to increase CI/CD cadence, reduce the number of bugs that make it to production, and provide more security by using continuous monitoring and backups.

What are some types of DevOps automation tools?

There are DevOps automation tools for CI/CD, configuration management, containerization, orchestration, package management, and web hosting.

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